Survey: Specialty foods market, townhomes wanted in downtown Howell

Howell residents want a sandwich shop downtown. They want a specialty foods market and two-bedroom townhomes.

That's according to results from a Howell Main Street survey released Thursday during an event at the Howell Carnegie District Library. 

There were 774 total respondents of the survey that was open from Oct. 1 to 16. The Downtown Professionals Network out of Franklin, Tennessee served as consultants.  

A solid majority of respondents — 72% — indicated the downtown district is improving or making progress. 

"That's a pretty good thing that folks are recognizing the positive things that are happening in the district," said Jay Schlinsog of the Downtown Professionals Network. 

The survey included questions about where people live and if they work in the downtown. It also included potential projects — such as housing, mixed-use developments, parking garages — and asked if they would fit in the downtown area. 

RELATED: Community input sought for downtown Howell's future

None of the projects described in the survey are in the pipeline. The questions were an effort to gauge what types of businesses and designs residents want in the downtown.

Results indicated 40% of respondents want to see a deli or sandwich shop as an eating and drinking establishment, while a restaurant was favored by 35% and 13% preferred a drinking establishment. 

A specialty foods market with artisan and locally-sourced foods scored the highest level of support, 47%, for a retail establishment. 

On housing, 55% of respondents said "yes" or "maybe' to considering living in the downtown.

Additionally, 50% of respondents would live in a two bedroom townhome, and a total of 82% of respondents would be willing to pay $1,200 or more in rent or mortgage. 

Living in a two-bedroom condo was also an option respondents gravitated toward; 44% said they would.

"It shows there's a need for a mix of housing," Schlinsog said. 

Mixed-use developments were also preferred by respondents, as are parking lots instead of parking structures. 

For example, the idea of a parking lot with a roof over it scored a 2.7 out of 5, while a large parking garage scored a -5, indicating a negative reaction to the idea. 

"Surface parking lots still score higher than parking decks or parking lots," Schlinsog said. 

On Wednesday, the first input session at Block Brewing Company drew nearly 40 people. The main task at this event was for those in attendance to indicate on a map where areas of improvement are and which areas are doing well and could remain as they are.

The area of East Sibley Street between South Barnard Street and McCarthy Street was marked by many as an area needing improvement.

Resident Jim Glenn said he likes the idea of underground parking because it allows more space for apartments and businesses. 

A market hall-type eating establishment is something he mentioned being in favor of.

"Something that can be frequented year-round," Glenn said. 

He likes the idea of linear gardens but said he is "not a big fan" of a climbing wall, slide or swing being put in the downtown. 

"I don't know where you'd put that," he said. 

If Howell is going to grow, Glenn said he would like to see it grow with a purpose.

"If you have a plan from it, it's going to look more purposeful and more pleasing," he said.